Personalized home organization
Entrepreneur, mom, & wife
As we move towards more online and on computers, I assumed I would have no more paper in my house. And while I feel like I am more on the side of less paper, there is still a ton of paper and documents I have to deal with. Even if you don’t have much paper, there are digital documents you need to take care of.
The best thing you can do for yourself is create systems in your home for those documents and paper. Look around your home. When paper comes into your house, what do you do with it? Do you let it pile up on your counter until it takes hours to deal with? Do you place it in a specific spot to deal with later? Do you stop what you’re doing and address it right away?
I have found the most effective way to handle paper coming into your house is to have a drop zone. This is a place your family knows is where items and papers need to go for you to deal with them. That way, you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to deal with the papers right away but you know you will.
After creating a drop zone, you need to create a system for going through those papers. If you just continue to drop papers in, then you’re back to where you started with a pile of papers you haven’t dealt with.
Think about your week. When would be a good time for you to devote 15-30 minutes to go through and address your papers? Monday morning after the kids go to school? Thursday evening after bedtime? Sunday morning before the kids wake up? An evening after work? This answer will be different for everyone depending on your schedule and your life. (For me, right now, Sunday morning before the kids wake up is my perfect time. I get a cup of coffee and go through the papers in the quiet of the morning!)
You need to find at least once a week that you can address these papers. If you wait longer, they will start to pile up and you will need more time. I find it most efficient to take time once a week and pop into the drop zone when I have a few minutes if there’s a quick task.
What goes into the drop zone? Papers. All the papers. Kid’s artwork, kid’s school work, mail, important paperwork your partner brought home, all the things!
A quick note on mail, we open the mail right away and recycle anything that we don’t need. That way, the only papers that end up in the drop zone are papers we need to address.
Okay, so you have everything in the drop zone. You have your beverage of choice to go through the papers. What do you do?
First, I go through and anything that is reference or something I need to remember, I put in my calendar or to do list. This gets rid of the need for the paper when I have the information somewhere else. This also only leaves one place to look when I need to find the information. For example, I went through the put my kids’ school calendars on my calendar. Now, when I need to know about a specific date, I have both schools on my calendar and a note of who the day off pertains to. I don’t have to go find that paper with the school calendar on it and make sure I have the correct child’s. This saves me time when it comes to scheduling. And it’s right where I need it. You can put the dates in your digital calendar, physical calendar or both.
To do’s go onto my to do list. And I write all the important information from the paper. My goal is to get rid of the paper so I am only looking a few places for my information. I know where my calendar and my to do list live and that’s where everything is I need to remember. If there are numbers or a code or phone number on the paper, I put it with the to do. That way, everything is together. And when it’s time to make that phone call, you have the phone number and all the information right there!
There are sometimes papers that need to be saved for different reasons. Some are important paperwork that you do need a physical copy for and others you may need to reference during the year, like notes about your child’s classroom.
For me, I prefer to scan those that I will need to reference, like the classroom notes. This way, if I do need to refer back, I have those as digital copies. But before that, I always pull the important information and put it into my reminders or my calendar!
For important physical papers, I have an important papers reference binder for my family. This holds our birth certificates, passports and other important documents. This is the binder I would grab if our house caught on fire! I use dividers by family members and then sheet protectors for all the important papers.
Another binder you may need is a medical binder if you have a medically complex family member. This would keep all of your medical information together so if you go to multiple doctors. You can have all the information for the doctor from a previous appointment with another doctor.
Okay, so what do you do now? You have all the information but don’t know where to start!
Start by creating your drop zone. Find a place in your home that is centrally located and family members can know where it is. If clutter on your counters bothers you, you can choose a drawer (this is what I do). If you’d prefer, you can have a bin on top of your counter.
Then, collect all the paper in your house! If you have a file cabinet, take all the paper there and start working through the papers. Most likely, a lot of the paper you won’t actually need. Give yourself a few hours, if possible, or at least 30 minutes blocks of time to complete all the papers. Once you get through the initial process, you can create the habit of dropping papers in the drop zone and going through them once a week!
Need help creating your system? We offer virtual organizing packages that would be perfect for helping you with your papers. We can work together to create a system that works for you and your family. Click the link below to reach out!
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Wildely Organized 2024
Based in Houston, TX, Wildely Organized offers compassionate, professional in-home organization services that empower families to live functional lives in a space they love.
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